My first world problems are fucking me up
(And that’s why this is unedited)
Cleaning out the car I was selling precipitated a cleaning storm of huge proportions. As I went from the car to a box of bank statements, to the shredder, back to the car, to cleaning out closets and back to the car, to reorganizing my office and back to the car and then to the washing machine with shit from the car which got me washing clothes next, I thought of the Zen koan; chop wood carry water. I’m no monk and this is no walled cloister.
Freedom is here. Here in the West. Get a plan. You need a plan. I need a plan, a goal, a list, a dream. Visualize. Create a reality and go for it step by step.
But I don’t step. I slide, shimmy, float, fly, skitter, jump and huddle. It’s huddle time. Where boredom, impatience or opportunity would oust me in the past, only a landslide could get me out of here these days. If doing simple tasks, simply is a Zen prescription for a peaceful existence, for me it is “Groundhog Day” and prison bars I can’t slip through. I have little faith that there is any place not barred by barbed wires, invisible or clear. But it doesn’t matter, my time is spoken for.
Patterns emerge like an exit free maze. It’s early in this day of freedom. Here I go in the samskaric circle that begins anew each promising day.
Attend to the animals. Feed- Brush- Walk. Chop.
Check mail. Read crap. Chop- chop and shuffle baggage.
Sweep away animal hair that will return by evening; this sand painting declares that animals are family members, not lawn furniture even if their footprints are heavy. Chop, haul, sweep and carry the old Kirby vacuum that lumbers like an iron dinosaur, over my feet, chipping and clipping corners, too heavy for one arm, too clumsy for two, selecting what it will and will not pick up
Up at dawn with hours to spare before work, now gone: But where? Is it here, writing nonsense that will waste a minute of someone else’s morning? I could paint. I could paint again and create art that will grace none of these crowded walls, nor yours. You do not need it. You spend hours at artist’s endeavors to push through your own muck.
Organize those years of yoga history on paper. A certificate in therapeutics means organizing my mind and history to show what I know. But would I use it? That reminds me. Look at endless suggestions of how to increase my profile. And by the way, network. I’m invited to an event. There is always an event. No one remembers you if you’re in your house. Note to self in my mother’s handwriting. It wouldn’t hurt to wear some make-up and put on clothes that don’t look like pajamas.
Time is running out. Race, drive, work, shop for food or batteries: Maybe socks. Someone always needs socks: Or eggs. Note to self, buy eggs. Go far for the free range eggs from happy chickens. Chop wood, use gas.
Back to work, drive home. Cook, walk dogs, clean something. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, eh? Whose baggage is this? It could be my grandmother’s on my mother’s side, imbedded in my mother, indoctrinated in my father, gifted to me.
I who need order; raised in a messy way by a rule-breaking wild woman who never relaxed or let any child relax, in a pristine home with two housekeepers on full time watch that still left room for her to improve things, was once accused of living like an animal because I left a pot in the dish drain to dry.
“Why do you leave this here?” my father asked on a visit to Nashville. “Why wouldn’t you just dry something and put it away? You live like animals!” I kid you, not. Chop my head off. Hand me your baggage.
Ooops, I have mail unanswered, unopened. I have a bill to pay. I forgot to look at my calendar and my clock. Time is running out. Note to self. Do not check e-mails. They will take you down. Chop -chop.
Deal with one problem, deal with one frustration. There will always be conflict that revolves around something computerized not working.
The phone rings. It works today. For two days it rang incessantly. I mean without a break. We turned it off. It called itself and left messages on the home phone, it called out and it broke into other people’s lines and I had 36 messages on the home answering machine that were from me or from me apparently calling some company and getting its voice mail. I pay for this service, this home phone I insist on keeping as the last link to a civilization that recognized the family over the individual.
It is my brother calling and as we talk, I notice a dust cloth in my hand. I am dusting the plantation shutters that are in every room. I am listening and talking and dusting and noticing that the cat did not use her litter box again, note to scour the house for her offerings.
My hard drive crashed and some of this computer’s functions still don’t work. I went back to the computer service yesterday. I will go back today.
I am not going crazy, crazy is where I’ve been with the rest of you. For me, this glance and testament is the chance to make merry and bright before another season of habit takes flight. This begun as a scrap last month was left untouched under the e-mails, dog hair and errands of a life. I’m hoisting it here to clean house: Cause that’s what I do.